The overwhelming majority of questions I get based on this blog and my social media following are related to be time management. From ‘I wish I had time to read as much as you do – how do you do it?’ to ‘How do you find time to keep a clean house AND get in a workout after working 10 hour days?’ and even ‘How in the world do you have time to try all these new recipes?’
Well, I’m glad you asked because today I’m going to give you some time management ideas. I should mention that even my boss and my consultant (during the section on goal setting) think I’m a more than a little nuts…and they’re not wrong! I thrive on achieving.
I want to write a brief disclaimer. One of the major benefits to going through the Crossroads career course, the WOW Consulting program, and recently taking the StrengthFinder, SHAPE, Communique, and DISC profiles is that I understand more than ever that people are made uniquely and wonderfully. While I’m extremely extroverted/influential (depending on test’s wording), with almost equally high dominance (I hear you snickering) – I know that my strengths may not be yours and that you may excel where I am really weak (like compliance – I’m only 6% compliant which will surprise no one that’s ever spent time with me). So – don’t think because my plan has worked wonders for me that it’s the perfect fit for you. Find what works for you. Hopefully, though, some of what I’m going to share will give you ideas!
So, the answer to some of the how’s…
– I do almost all of my cooking on Sundays. Sundays are my day-of-rest. Of course, as a believer, I’m a supporter of keeping the sabbath holy. Unfortunately, I’m a busy body so I don’t always do the best job at resting but I do try to stay home the better part of sundays and handle my household. Since I’m there anyways I try to go ahead and cook & portion out my meals for the week. If you’re going to try this I recommend you do at least one crockpot meal every week – this really cuts back on energy used (by you and your oven) and they’re just plain delicious. Check my Pinterest for ideas if your short on those. IF you’re a bigger family (instead of a party of one) you may need more than one meal prep day per week – and I totally get that!
Entertaining is a big priority to me – so I do try to cook for others a couple times a month. I make sure at the beginning of each month that I have a couple of these on the books. Because, after all, my theme word for this year is intentional and you don’t have good relationships by accident.
– Wunderlist. I joke often that I live and die by my wunderlist. It’s a free app that allows you to make to do lists, in catagories, with reminders, and repeating tasks. It is basically a little slice of heaven-on-a-smartphone for those of us with self-diagnosed OCD (really I’m just obsessive). Better still? You can share your lists with someone else. My lists are shared with my friend/partner-in-crime/accountability partner, Hillary, and hers are shared with me. While we don’t usually add tasks to each other’s lists – we can occasionally complete one for each other. Example: if I see she needs something from Target and I’m already going – boom – two birds, one stone.
I recommend Wunderlist no matter how crazy (or not so crazy) you choose to get with it. Here’s a few hints on what’s worked for me: 1. Sharing with someone else – I hate leaving tasks undone where someone else can see my laziness so I’m more likely to knock every last one out 2. I assign myself a chore every single day, no excuses BUT I assign the more time consuming ones on the days that I know I’ll have a little more time while long days of work and after work activities are likely to get a ‘take out the trash’ or a ‘run and empty the dishwasher’ type task that can be done before work.
– Reading. Ok, let’s talk about reading. First off, reading is a huge value of mine. I had an intense fear after graduating college that I would stop learning. I desire to be someone who is a lifelong learner and so I decided I needed a plan. Every year since I have set a somewhat lofty reading goal. It’s ranged from 50-100 books each year and I haven’t failed once to complete it.
Feel free to guess who annoying it is to me when people make light of this lofty goal by acting like I have infinitely more time than they have. I try not to be overly defensive or snarky but the truth (as we covered early in consulting) is that we all have equal amount of hours in our days and how we use them is a choice. Now, argue all you want that you don’t CHOOSE to work as many hours as you do (false, you do actually) or I once had someone argue that it’s not their fault they have a kid and I don’t – well, actually that’s not true either. I have made choices that have kept me single and kidless thus far while she had not.
Anyway, I work 10 hour days at my full-time job and I actually have a part-time (15-30 hours) a week gig as well so I work on a given week 40-70 hours among other responsibilities. So to ensure that I keep reading and meeting my goals I do a huge chunk in the mornings. I get up at 5:30 am, make coffee, and then I do my bible reading, leadership reading (10 min), and educational reading (20 min) before I start getting ready for work. I like to read fiction at night when I can but I make sure the important stuff happens first thing.
If you want to start reading but that sounds out of reach – start with 10 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed how far that will get you (on average – 1 book per month).
– Don’t make excuses. I’m hard on people which is a quality that people both love and hate about me on any given day. I try to coach people in my life in an encouraging way but one thing I establish early on with people who ask for me to mentor them or hold them accountable is this – I don’t do excuses. I don’t want to know why it wasn’t your fault you were late, didn’t do something, overspent your budget, charged back up your credit cards, etc. I just don’t. You did it. I blame you. (I’m laughing as I write this but I really am mostly serious)
– Set achievable/time specific goals. Nothing kills your time management mojo like biting off more than you can chew. I sat down with one friend who wanted some advice about goals and she handed me a notebook with all of her goals in it. It was 15 pages of goals and they were intense. Example: she was going to start getting up 4 hours earlier, starting the next day. While I’m all for early risers who get junk done – that was a bit TOO lofty. So figure out what you can do, so that you’ll really achieve it, and can be proud of yourself.
Ok this got lengthy quick. So that’s all for now but don’t worry – I love this topic so it will reappear on the blog in the future I am sure!